Will My Roth IRA Heirs Have to Take Annual Distributions?

A Roth IRA is one of the many estate planning tools because of some of the tax advantages that apply. This article summarizes information about how Roth IRA’s can be a powerful investment tool both while you are alive and as a mechanism to transfer assets after you pass on. 

What is a Roth IRA?

  • A Roth IRA is an Individual Retirement Account to which you contribute after-tax dollars. While there are no current-year tax benefits, your contributions and earnings can grow tax-free, and you can withdraw them tax-free and penalty free after age 59½ and once the account has been open for five years. 

Why is a Roth IRA beneficial for heirs?

  • Many are happy to find out that heirs get to inherit your Roth IRA tax-free. This is quite the advantage compared to a traditional IRA or 401(k) where withdrawals made by heirs are taxed. In other words, you get to pass your Roth IRA benefits directly down to your heirs. 

Are there specific benefits for a spouse beneficiary of a Roth IRA?

  • Yes, spouses who inherit a Roth IRA have several advantageous options. 
    • If they are the sole beneficiary, they can be the account owner and avoid required minimum distributions (RMD’s) during their lifetime. 
    • If they are not the sole beneficiary, they can roll over their portion of the assets into an inherited or beneficiary IRA and stretch RMD’s out over their life expectancy. 
    • Roth distributions are tax free if the account has been open for at least five years.

 Will my non-spouse IRA heirs have to take RMD’s?

  • This question was asked and answered on nj.com, and the answer was “A non-spousal beneficiary must begin taking RMDs on the basis of his/her life expectancy by Dec. 31 of the year after the owner’s death.

Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer

There are many estate planning tools such as the Roth IRA to effectuate beneficial growth and tax treatment in life and for the heirs after your death. At the Law Office of David Knecht, we have extensive experience helping clients with estate planning and can help you make a plan that is just right for you and your loved ones. Contact us at 707-451-4502. 

Anne Heche, Another Celebrity Estate Planning Lesson, Dies Without a Will

A recent celebrity death can provide insightful estate planning lessons. Anne Heche, who is often known for starring in the movie “Seven Days Seven Nights” along with Harrison Ford, died without a will. As reported by Fox News, the actress died in August in a car crash, leaving behind two sons, one an adult and one a minor. Homer Lafoon, the 20 year old son, has filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court to be named as administrator to her estate. News reports indicated that the crash resulted in severe anoxic brain injury before receiving medical care as she waited for the opportunity to donate her organs. The family indicated that she was “peacefully taken off life support” on Sunday August 14, 2022, after being declared brain-dead.

Estate Planning Lessons to Be Learned from this Untimely Celebrity Passing

It’s never too early to start working on your estate plan.

  • Anne was just 53 year old and likely assumed she had many years ahead.
  • Since Anne did not have a will, her son, who is only 20, has been asked to be named as administrator of her estate. This responsibility may be burdensome for him at his age. Lafoon has also requested to be named guardian ad litem over his thirteen year old half brother.

Dying without an estate plan can lead to uncertainty.

  • For Anne Heche’s estate, the lack of a will may result in an opportunity for controversy, and it may take extra time to identify an executor. Identify the heirs-at-law can also be challenging.
  • For example, Homer Lafoon, her son, has requested to be named as administrator, but it may be that another relative, such as Heche’s mother, may request to step in.

If you have a minor child, you can request a guardian.  

  • The self-help resources at courts.ca.gov provide detailed information about guardianship.
  • You can name a guardian for your children to guide the court as to your wishes, and if both parents are dead, then the court will consider what is best for your children and ask what they want.
  • If you have an incurable illness, you can ask the court to appoint a join guardian for your child, which will give you the peace of mind to know that when you die, the joint guardian will have full custody of your child without additional hearings.

Consult the Law Office of David Knecht

Celebrity deaths provide a wake-up call for all of us that we never know when our time will come. It’s rarely an easy or convenient time to consider estate planning, but making a priority of planning for the future can lead to a greater peace of mind for yourself and your loved ones.  Contact Law Office of David Knecht at 707-451-4502. We have extensive experience in estate planning and can help you make decisions that are right for your family.

3 Things to Look for When Selecting an Attorney to Prepare Your Living Trust 

A living trust is an estate planning document created and legally in existence during the grantor’s lifetime. The main advantage of a living trust is that it does not have to go through the standard probate process, so your funds and assets can be distributed more quickly when you die or become incapacitated than they would be able to with a standard will. 

While it’s possible to make your own living trust, hiring an estate planning attorney will help ensure that your loved ones and property are protected. Read on to discover what qualities to look for when hiring an attorney to create your living trust:


  • Experience: 

When looking for a qualified attorney to assist you with your living trust, it’s very important to look for a law firm that has extensive experience in estate planning. Because some of the legal issues in estate planning vary by state and even by county, it’s also important to find a firm with experience serving clients in your area. 

Spend some time looking for an attorney with local experience who is familiar with constructing and implementing living trusts for people in situations similar to your own. 


  • Trust: 

When selecting an attorney to prepare your living trust, it’s also important to ask yourself the following questions: Do I feel comfortable with this person? Can I see myself working closely with this attorney? Do I trust this attorney enough to share my personal information? 

Keep in mind that you’ll be sharing intimate details about your life and your family with your estate planning attorney. It becomes one of the most personal professional relationships that you have. You will want to feel comfortable with this person, and you will want someone who can answer all your questions and provide you the personalized attention that you need. 



  • Reasonable Fees:

Legal fees are another crucial consideration when you’re selecting an attorney to prepare your living trust. It’s often worth it to pay to have the peace of mind that a qualified and professional estate planning attorney brings when you’re setting up a living trust. However, make sure that you have an understanding of what the cost will be for your particular case. A good attorney will be clear about their billing practices, and they will let you know what you will be charged for and if any additional costs come up. 

Your estate planning attorney is the person who helps you make sure that your loved ones and property are taken care of. Make sure that it’s someone you can feel confident in. 

Contact David Knecht Law today to schedule a consultation to discuss whether a living trust is right for you!